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9 Fun(ish) facts about the new GRE by Magna Sundstrom, The Princeton Review, Director of Educational Partnerships

January 14, 2011

After four years of rumors the new GRE is finally here, well almost here. On August 1, 2011 (according to ETS) the GRE will be a whole new test, it will have a whole new scoring system.  How is it changing? Glad you asked.

Here are 9 interesting facts about the new revised test:

Fact #1
The revised GRE is longer. Currently the test is comprised of one quantitative section, one verbal section, and two essays. The revised test has two quantitative sections, two verbal sections, plus the essays.  So now, instead of 2.5 hours the revised GRE test will take nearly 4 hours to complete. This is bad news for concentration levels everywhere!

Fact #2
The GRE has a new(ish) test format.
 The current GRE test is Computer Adaptive (CAT), in which questions are delivered one at a time and the test adapts to your performance as you answer each question. The revised Multi-Stage Test (MST) allows you to navigate entire sections, skipping and returning to questions and/or changing responses as you need. Awesome news, right?

Wrong. The revised GRE will also adapt to your performance, just in a different way. MST selects questions in groups, or stages, rather than question by question.

Fact #3
The Revised GRE has a different score scale. For the essays, the scoring will remain the same, but the scale of the Verbal and Quantitative will be changing. On the current GRE the verbal and quantitative sections are scored on a scale of 200 – 800 with 10 point increments. On the revised GRE will now become separate scores of 130 – 170 at 1-point increments.

Here’s the big catch: clearly, admissions councils will not know what a “good” revised GRE scores is for awhile. If a student has a current GRE 500 Verbal score and another student took the revised GRE and has a 156 verbal score, how do they compare? ETS says they will have a score comparison chart for Graduate councils. But, how accurate will those score charts be for a few years until ETS has real data to work from? Would you want to be denied admissions because you Revised GRE test score didn’t compare appropriately to the old, more familiar scale?

Fact #4
The Revised GRE Verbal has ”less vocabulary”’. So, the current GRE has Analogies, Antonyms, Sentence Completions, and Reading Comprehension. The revised test includes Reading Comprehension, but also debuts two new question types: Text Completions and Sentence Completions (which are basically hyped up sentence completions). So the new test will have a little less vocabulary, and that’s a small victory. However, less vocabulary means there will be more reading, and under time constraints, it’s no picnic in the park.

Fact #5
The Revised GRE Quantitative section has an On-Screen calculator. Seems great, right? Well, after years of watching ETS revise tests we know what to expect. Currently you are not allowed to have a calculator on the GRE so you’ve got fractions, and percents, and other stuff that you have to carefully calculate by hand. Nothing has changed. Now, ETS will use a different approach. They think “Hmmm, now we’ve given them a false sense of hope and security with the onscreen calculator, how can we pull the rug from under them? AHA, let’s make questions in which using a calculator is a liability and choose big numbers that are impossible to calculate!”

Fact #6
The Revised GRE has questions with multiple correct answers.
 For new “select all that apply” questions on the quantitative and sentence equivalence questions, there are multiple correct answers for each question. The trick? You have to pick ALL of the correct answers to get the point for that question.

Fact #7
If you register for the Revised GRE test between March 15, 2011 and September 1, 2011 you will get a 50% discount.
 Reality: This is an attempt to get people to sign up for the new test and be the first guinea pigs. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to be a guinea pig for a test they should be paying me, not vice versa.

Fact #8
The Revised GRE has new rules for the frequency and score availability
. Currently; you can take the test once every calendar month. The revised GRE will be offered less frequently and you can only take the test every 60 days, so this could be a problem if you are close to a deadline and don’t like you scores.

As for score reporting, currently you see your unofficial Quantitative and Verbal scores immediately, and then graduate schools are sent your official scores in two to three weeks. On the revised GRE you won’t be able to see your scores right away, plus if you take the test in August or September you will not have official scores until late November. This could be a problem for some graduate program deadlines.

Fact #9
Test Blackout Dates.
 There will be NO GRE tests during the month of July.

Time is running out! Prometric Centers have fewer and fewer tests dates available as they phase out of the current GRE. For UCSB students the closest prometric test centers are in Camarillo and San Luis Obispo.

Last date to take the current GRE formats?
Camarillo – June 20th, 2011
San Luis Obispo – June 29th, 2011

Bottom Line:
It’s clear we are getting into some murky territory with the revised GRE quickly approaching. With new formatting, we expect to see what we saw 6 years ago with the New SAT Writing section – it will take Universities time to adjust to the new scoring system and they will be skeptical as they try to figure out how to compare old scores and new score.  Graduate programs already know how to use the current scores, so it’s really the safe way to go. And, even if you have a couple of years before you apply to graduate school, you scores are good for 5 years, so prepare NOW!

We are ready to help you prepare for the current or revised GRE, so no worries there. But, give your self a break and take the easier, safer, and shorter GRE. If you have any inclination to attend grad school in the next five years enroll in a course and prepare for the June (at the latest) GRE test date.

For more information on the revised GRE General Test, please visit the official Educational Testing Service website.

Happy Testing!
Magna Sundstrom
The Princeton Review, irector of Educational Partnerships – Santa Barbara and The Central Valley

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2011 11:02 pm

    I don’t like fact number 8: The revised GRE will be offered less frequently and you can only take the test every 60 days, so this could be a problem if you are close to a deadline and don’t like you scores.

    Why only every 60 days? 30 days would be a lot better.

  2. Anne Y permalink
    September 12, 2011 9:52 pm

    The current GRE has 2 math and 2 verbal, but the second round of each is not scored, it is to test out new questions. The current GRE is the same. skipping the “experimental” sections and getting out of there before your head hurts too much is worth it

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